I’ve been thinking about writing this for a while, since well before Harvey Weinstein hit the news last week. But I didn’t.
I passionately try to be open. My blog is a tool I use to share my experiences, to be honest in the hope that it will shut down shame and encourage others that honesty is safe. But this time shame got me and made me feel that I shouldn’t share. Every time I tried to process my thoughts to type, I began challenging my own perceptions. I tried to rationalise each of their actions, to neutralise the blame in my own mind:
“I was wearing a short dress.”
“He had his own issues going on.”
“I put myself in that situation.”
So they weren’t really at fault. Something made them act that way and I couldn’t blame them for it. So I didn’t. I remember telling a couple of friends after one incident. No one was shocked and they shrugged it off in a moment. I felt ashamed – firstly that it had happened, and secondly that I had overreacted. I still downplay the things that happened, even to myself. I feel like I can’t quite label them as what they were. But “me too” feels safe. Shame has lost.
It’s important to know that anyone who has shared a “me too” doesn’t owe the story behind it. It’s also important to know that not sharing a “me too” doesn’t mean someone hasn’t got a story. I feel deeply sad, but inspired by the courage of so many who have shared and have let me share. I spoke to a friend recently, praising “#metoo”, and I ended up telling her about what I’d experienced. She listened and encouraged me that I wasn’t overreacting, that my feelings were valid, that what happened was wrong, that I shouldn’t be ashamed.
We often judge quickly and feed into the cycle of shaming – unintentionally, mostly, but still participants in the discouragement of positive openness. Creating the space in our relationships where others feel safe to be open, if they would like to be, is so important. Try to make that space, and accept that space if you would like it.